Armenia police detain dozens of anti-government protesters
YEREVAN – Agence France-Presse
Police in the Armenian capital Yerevan detained dozens of anti-government demonstrators on April 19 - the seventh day of large-scale protests against ex-president Serzh Sargsyan’s election as prime minister.
Led by firebrand opposition MP Nikol Pashinyan, hundreds of protesters attempted to blockade the entrance to government headquarters in central Yerevan, before riot police intervened, arresting dozens of people and taking them to a local police station, an AFP journalist reported from the scene.
Protesters have held rallies over recent days to denounce Sargsyan’s efforts to remain in power as prime minister under a new parliamentary system of government.
Controversial constitutional amendments approved in 2015 have transferred governing powers from the presidency to the premier.
Late on April 17, more than 16,000 rallied in central Yerevan’s Republic Square, vowing to mount a nationwide campaign of “civil disobedience” in opposition to the Kremlin-backed Sargsyan who was elected by parliament on April 16 to the post of prime minister after a decade serving as president.
Pashinyan - who earlier announced the “start of a peaceful velvet revolution” - told the rally on April 18 that the protest movement’s objective was to “change power” in Armenia through a nationwide campaign of “civil disobedience” and permanent sit-in protests inside government buildings.
The number of demonstrators dwindled on April 18, compared with the April 16 rally of some 40,000 - the largest Armenia has seen in years.
Protests began in Yerevan on Friday and have since spread to the country’s second and third largest cities, Gyumri and Vanadzor.